Spooky Celluloid

Posted Tue, 10/28/08

Aside from the welcome change in the weather, this time of year is my favorite because spooky movies come out of the woodwork. I have long been a horror/suspense film fan, the scarier the better although I draw the line at excessive gore.

I don't recall the movies I watched as a child during the Halloween season, but I do remember the first one in my teens that I still enjoy today. I saw Phantasm for the first time in 1979.

Story description from Wikipedia:

The "Tall Man" in Phantasm, as portrayed by Angus Scrimm.Phantasm is a low-budget cult classic horror movie produced in 1977 and released in 1979. It was directed, written, photographed, co-produced and edited by Don Coscarelli. It introduced The Tall Man (who was portrayed in the film and its sequels by Angus Scrimm), a supernatural and sadistic undertaker who turns the dead into dwarf zombies to do his bidding and take over the world. The Tall Man uses little flying silver balls (referred to as Sentinel Spheres by fans) that contain a lethal pair of spiked blades and a drill that destroys the victim's brain.

The film is not Oscar-worthy, and is actually more of a B-movie than anything else. However, it has retained its own cult following over the years and spawned several sequels: Phantasm II (1988), Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), and Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998). Apparently, Phantasm V is currently in the works with original cast member Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm (who plays the Tall Man).

On the lighthearted spooky side, High Spirits is another favorite of mine. With the unlikely combination of Peter O'Toole, Liam Neeson, Daryl Hannah, Steve Guttenberg, Peter Gallagher, Beverly D'Angelo, and Jennifer Tilly the film simply giggles and rocks. Of course Peter O'Toole is one of my favorite actors so I suppose I'm partially biased.

Plot summary from Wikipedia:

High Spirits (1988)Set in a remote Irish castle, High Spirits is a topsy-turvy comedy with thematic leanings towards Ireland's rich folklore regarding ghosts and spirits.

Peter O'Toole is Peter Plunkett, the owner of a dilapidated Irish castle which acts as a bed and breakfast supplying the only employment for the local villagers. Owing money to an American businessman, Plunkett has the idea to turn the castle into "The most haunted castle in Europe" for the tourist trade. He and his wacky staff of Irish characters set about creating ghost costumes and effects for their first group of American lodgers.

At first annoyed by the inept hauntings, the American guests (including Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D'Angelo, Connie Booth and Jennifer Tilly) soon get what they paid for as the genuine ghosts of Castle Plunkett take umbrage with being cheaply exploited and stage a full scale paranormal event. Two of the castle's ghosts, Mary Plunkett and Martin Brogan (played by Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson) become romantically entangled with Guttenberg and D'Angelo's characters. This romantic twist is the focus of most of the plot.

Anything with an "old dark castle" and foggy feel has always been a lure for me, but to each their own.

While I'm on the subject, if you like fun facts and trivia about Halloween and some ghoulish recipes, visit the spook-tacular Graveyard Grub (intro with music), All Hallows Eve, Halloween History and The Pumpkin Patch. I wrote the articles, of course, and they get a lot of web hits this time of year - naturally. The bits are all in fun, but some of the recipes are quite a treat and easy to prepare.

Whatever your preference, have a Happy Halloween!

Tags: Photos & Other Images